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Reports

Saturday, 3 November 2001
--> Knysna (SA)

From the Van Niekerk's I moved on to a backpackers lodge in the same town, where the owners took me to a very unique party in the forest. How unique that was can all be read here and it surely was an experience, but...
Martin and Marilyn Van Niekerk would let me sleep in so when I woke up this Saturday around 10, Martin took off for his weekly golfing after Marilyn made a beefy breakfast for us.

When Martin returned around 1 in the afternoon, the couple drove me through Knysna town before finally dropping me off at my next place-to-stay: the Overlanders Lodge in town centre Knysna.

From the outside Overlanders looks like a fun centre and the inside and back yard really proves so. The back yard looks like how a walk on the beach would be and contains marvellous wall paintings to extend this atmosphere. And the round pool really looks inviting!

I met up with Charles, who invited me as a backpacker to the lodge as he meets a lot of backpackers but not so many “with such a unique idea like you,” he said. Together with his best friend Nick, Charles is the owner of Overlanders for just over a year.

They both had been travelling a lot in their past and both had this dream to start a hostel on their own. When they stayed here one night, they found out that the place was for sale. And with the young guys enthusiasm they rebuilt the place like it was now. And with the music blasting out the speakers it sure must be a real party place at night – especially in busy summer time.

I was given my own four bed room in the back yard dorm and Charles gave me some drinks at the funky Banana bar. Manager Wendy fed us with a very good hot pot containing potatoes, meat and vegetables for dinner.

There weren’t many guests staying there at the moment, but we managed to create a fun ambience with the German tourist Patrick, Charles, Nick and barman Robin and of course Bob Marley on the PC-run MP3-player. On with the Hawaiian blouses and the flower necklaces and the cold beer!

And even with just five people at the Banana Bar it was already a crazy fest; these guys are good fun and still bear their fresh enthusiasm and laughs with them.

After dinner I had a small nap until I got awakened by the beats from the bar next to the window.

Tonight there was going to be a party in the forest as a friend of Wendy gave a birthday party and everybody was invited.

And a party in the forest sounds like sensational fun, doesn’t it?

So after I had a quick email check on their sacred laptop, we got ready for the 17 kilometres drive into the deep forest. And this ride was already exciting as we drove on unpaved roads while heavy rain was pissing on the windscreen while it was already pretty dark.

And the route to the party seemed never ending. We arrive at a place where a bright light spot lit the road (or what was left of it in the rain) and we parked behind other cars.

From here we walked to a building, that – I later found out – was a former school room. But with too few people living here to attend the school, it was now a place where a small family lives, who hosted this party for the birthday girl.

Now this was a kind of party I would never expect. The classroom contained a few couches what seemed to be the living room area, a humble pool table and behind a stereo set a deejay was pushing the buttons of two CD-players.

Only a handful of people and us were the party bunch. The dj played hard trance music so it was difficult to have a conversation inside and outside a few people were rolling their joints and drinking beer, most of them were even so far out that a normal conversation with them wasn’t possible either.

Just to wait for the party to start (we thought), German Patrick and I attacked the pool table and played a few games. Charles came by of and on with new beers and asked if we were enjoying ourselves. “Yes,” Patrick said, “It’s a very different kind of party but worth the experience.” Or he said something like this. But eventually not much changed in the following hours.

We were both just too amazed how in the first place people could live here. The two children of the hosting family were still playing around, while the older audience was drinking whiskey from the bottle, rolling their whatever-they-smoked or just balancing around not knowing where they were or where they were going.

And I know that certain people would love a life that contains only dope and alcohol, but for me is was something totally too different. It wasn’t even a culture shock because I just can’t see this as a culture.

And after a while Patrick and I both sat down on the couches and waited for the time to pass. The guy sitting (I thought he was sleeping) next to me asked me: “Didn’t you take a trip?”
“No!” I answered bothered, but he was already flying as he was still sitting next to me.

Okay, Patrick was right, it was a unique experience, but not really an exciting birthday bash.

Charles told us in the car when we drove towards this place, that we were going to meet the real Knysna-people “and they live a very down-to-earth life.” But I honestly believe that if these people were the real Knysna-people, the town wouldn’t really survive that long...

Around midnight we drove back to Knysna again, enjoying how the rain was still dropping down on us and made our night vision even worse. The car could only drive 20 km/hr, because you couldn’t really see what would be ahead of us and the rain made the road very slippery.

So it was quite surprising when we went around a sharp corner and almost bumped into a tree that had fallen on the track. Here a rainy Jurassic Parc-alike-scene started where we got out of the car in heavy rainfall, pulled away the tree and got back in the car again. Now where were the spooky Dino's?

Back at the Overlanders Lodge we discovered we weren’t that tired yet and decided to visit the next door pub where a Halloween party had almost finished. Suddenly we were standing with beers in our hands next to a little dance floor where young locals were dressed as nuns and nurses and dancing on more recognizable music.

Now talk about a weird night this is, I thought I was eventually indeed having a trip...

When we finished our beer there, the eyelids were falling down so we got back to the lodge where I settled myself on top of a double-bed and dozed off for another night of sleep.

Good night Knysna!

Ramon.




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